UK internet service providers (ISPs) must block a popular football streaming website under a court order in favour of the Premier League.
FirstRow1.eu, which links to a number of football video streams from around the world, will be blocked before the start of the new season next month. The High Court has ruled that the Swedish-based site's operations represent a breach of copyright.
This is the first time that a sport-related website has been blocked in the UK, and it follows a series of ISP-level website blocks put in place by the music industry to halt illegal free downloads. It is also the first time that a site providing access to streaming sites – as distinct from actually hosting the streams – has been blocked.
A Premier League spokesman told the BBC: "It is absolutely imperative that content industries are afforded protection under the law if they are to continue investing in the sort of quality talent and facilities that has made them successful and of interest in the first place." He continued: "The judgement recognises the parasitic nature of the enterprise; this was an out and out commercial operation with estimated revenues of up to £10m a year, whilst giving nothing back to the sport."
FirstRow1.eu has said that the streams will not be removed from the internet. "The average user is a kid or a person that doesn't have the means to see it any other way," said a spokesman.
BSkyB pays £760 million a year for its broadcast rights of Premier League fixtures, whilst newcomer BT Sport is paying £246 million.